John Ryan is in his 26th year as the head men's and women's swim coach of the Trinity University Tigers.
Coach Ryan was appointed to his position in April 1992, and the swim team began competition the following fall. Since that inaugural season, 24 men's and women's swimmers (14 men and 10 women) have earned All-America honors following NCAA Division III competition.
Trinity athletics history was made in March 2014 at the NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships at Indianapolis, Indiana. Men's swimmer Stephen Culberson captured the NCAA 100-yard freestyle title with a record time of 44.18 seconds. Culberson became the first Tiger swimmer to attain a national championship. Trinity's swimmers and divers finished in the top-25 at the NCAA Championships in 2014, 2015, and 2016. Culberson qualified for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials in the 100-meter freestyle event.
The Tiger women's swimming & diving team has won 16 Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Championships since 2000. Trinity's remarkable run includes 13 championships in a row from 2004-2016. Trinity's men have brought home nine SCAC Championships, including 2016.
Coach Ryan has earned SCAC Coach of the Year accolades 12 times during his tenure at Trinity (eight women's, and four men's). It includes SCAC Coaching Staff of the Year honors.
He graduated from Bowdoin (ME) College in 1969, and subsequently served as an officer in the U.S. Army for four years. From 1970-1972, he was the swimming coach for the United States Modern Pentathlon Training Center, then located at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. He prepared American athletes for the 1972 Munich Olympic Games, while with also working as the head age group coach for the San Antonio Aquatic Club (SAAC). Coach Ryan helped Coach Bill Walker guide SAAC to the 1972 Texas Age Group Swimming (TAGS) team title, breaking a long string of consecutive wins by Dad's Club YMCA of Houston.
Upon completion of military service in 1973, Coach Ryan began graduate studies at The College of William and Mary (VA). While working on his master’s in education, he founded and coached the Peninsula YMCA Swim Team. His club quickly became a Virginia AAU power, and one of the country's best "Y" teams, only to lose its sponsorship in the summer of 1975. The following year, Coach Ryan returned to San Antonio to assume leadership of the aquatic programs for the North East ISD and the San Antonio Aquatic Club. He founded a summer swim league in his school district, grew SAAC to over 300 swimmers and, together with Coaches Peter Williams and George Block, organized the Alamo Area Aquatic Association.
Between 1977 and 1982, Coach Ryan developed many prominent state and nationally ranked swimmers. Several won NJO titles and one, Cassie Cochran, established two American AAU short course meter records in Paris, France, during the 1978 winter season. While directing the North East ISD program, three of Coach Ryan's protegés received TISCA "High School Swimmer-of-the-Year" awards for their performances at the UIL state meet.
In 1982, Coach Ryan accepted the women's head coaching job at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. His 1984-85 team had an undefeated dual meet season and a top-10 finish at the NCAA Division I Championships. The following year, he moved to Wesleyan (CN) University, where he served as aquatic director and head coach of men's and women's swimming. Coach Ryan brought new energy to Wesleyan's program and, after a less-than-successful first season, he transformed the Cardinals into a consistent winner. During his final winter season in Connecticut, Coach Ryan's 1991-92 team chalked up a combined record of 16-2. When Coach Ryan left the program in the summer of 1992, it was one of the best in the New England region. Coach Ryan had athletes qualify for the NCAA III Championships 26 times, and saw his swimmers earn All-America honors on 15 occasions. Coach Ryan was voted the 1991 New England Division III Coach of the Year by his peers.
Coach Ryan returned to San Antonio to become Trinity's first-ever varsity head coach of an NCAA swimming and diving program.
He believes the city is a great place to live, and felt Trinity would quickly become a competitive program. It has, thanks to the fact it readily attracts young men and women seeking both a quality undergraduate education and a rewarding athletic experience.
Coach Ryan strives to find a way to help his swimmers achieve whatever potential they may have as collegiate athletes. He believes everyone benefits when each and every swimmer makes a personal commitment to the team concept. Good fellowship, a common purpose, and hard work, Coach Ryan says, all combine to create the create the kind of team experience he feels is memorable for all participants.
Judging from the success of the T.U. program, the formula works.
Coach Ryan and his wife, Elena, are the parents of a son and daughter, Michael and Elizabeth.